In 2016 we questioned a cohort of more than 1,000 finance employees about their experiences of elements of diversity including gender, ethnicity and disability in the NHS organisations they work for.
The results of this survey informed our report, Diversity in NHS Finance Leadership: beliefs, behaviours and barriers, which can be downloaded from the link to the right of this page. The report highlights some of the challenges faced by finance teams in making progress in diversity & inclusion (D&I), including: ineffective D&I-related policies; experiences of bias; and perceptions of high workload and lack of flexible working opportunities at more senior levels. As a result we put together a working taskforce of leaders from all corners of the NHS who met to discuss the issues.
The individuals who attended have pledged to build and implement a programme of change which aims to bring greater diversity to the health service’s 16,000-strong finance workforce and address the imbalance at senior level.
The programme will focus on four main objectives:
- Education – raising awareness of the issue, whilst working with organisations to share best practice and learning between themselves, to help identify practical solutions for others.
- Influence & Policy – those at the top of organisations and in positions of influence need to challenge the status quo and highlight the benefits of a diverse workforce. Introducing new and flexible ways of working could be a small change with a big impact.
- Sponsorship – senior leaders from all backgrounds identifying other talented staff and those with a clear potential, and supporting them in their careers.
- Narrative – ensuring consistency of diversity messaging across organisations to ensure everyone is working towards the same goal.
The taskforce has now launched the narrative referred to in the last bullet point above. Driving Value Through Difference can be downloaded from the link on the right-hand side of this page.
We have produced this because the growing body of research on D&I shows that well-managed, diverse teams provide better care for patients, better management of resources, are more innovative and make better decisions.
Future-Focused Finance seeks to strengthen NHS Finance provision in support of high quality patient services and a key aspect of our work is supporting careers within the profession. We are committed to supporting those groups protected by the Equality Act 2010 to achieve their potential and to building a diverse pipeline of future finance leaders. We are starting our journey with a focus on female and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) employees.
As a consequence, we have developed this narrative, which outlines why it is so important to increase the diversity of our workforce and continue to build an inclusive culture across all parts of the NHS. It highlights what we are doing to achieve this, and, as senior finance professionals, what you can do to help. NHS Finance can lead the way and be a catalyst for change, but this requires strong leadership. In order to make long term sustainable progress, D&I needs to move away from being an issue that is owned by HR and to sit firmly on the agenda of senior leaders in every team.